There are only 18 days until the start of the 2019-20 season for Maryland men’s basketball. As the Terps get ready for a highly anticipated year where they’re ranked in the top-10 of every major preseason poll, we’ll be breaking down head coach Mark Turgeon’s roster, which promises to be the deepest he’s had in his time in College Park.
Freshman center Chol Marial was easily the most intriguing addition to the 2019 Maryland basketball freshman class. He had a very peculiar high school career that saw his stardom reach great heights back in 2016 and 2017, but then come crashing down with injury as he missed most of his last two years of high school basketball. Marial was a 4-star recruit and the 60th overall player in the nation, according to ESPN.
Here is what to expect from Marial this season.
Chol Marial, Center, No. 15
Hometown: Chandler, AZ, by way of Rumrek, South Sudan
High school: AZ Compass Prep
2018-19 stats: 14 ppg, 13 rbg, 8 bpg (AZ Compass Prep)
Marial joins the Maryland basketball program as somewhat of a man of mystery. The South Sudan native missed most of his junior and senior seasons of high school, playing only six games this past year while at AZ Compass Prep. According to his coach at Compass Prep, Pete Kaffey, Marial averaged 9.4 blocks per game during his six games on the team.
When Marial is healthy and on the floor, it’s clear that he is a unicorn, similar to someone like Kristaps Porzingis, and a complete game changer. The big question for Marial is his health, which has plagued his young career already.
Let’s take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of his game.
As mentioned above, one of Marial’s best traits is his ability to block shots. Standing at 7’2 with a 7’11 wingspan, it clear that Marial has all the tools necessary to become one of the best shot blockers in college basketball.
Back to back blocks from Chol Marial. @MarialChol @overtime @IMGABasketball pic.twitter.com/KkyO9cceFy— ᴊᴀᴋᴇ ᴘᴇʀᴘᴇʀ (@JakePerper) February 1, 2018
To give some perspective on how unique these measurables are, Marial’s 7’11 wingspan is larger than the wingspan of every single player in the NBA, besides 7’6 Tacko Fall, whose wingspan measures in at 8’4. (tweet was before he was drafted)
Notable wingspans of current NBA players:— Matt Levine (@_MattSLevine) May 6, 2019
1. Mohammad Bamba 7’10”
2. Rudy Gobert 7’8.5”
3. Hassan Whiteside 7’7”
4. Andre Drummond 7’6.25”@TerrapinHoops commit Chol Marial has a 7’11” wingspan, which is longer than any current player in the NBA.
Blocking shots is not the only impressive aspect of Marial’s game, he is also extremely skilled on the offensive end. Given his stature, Marial is strong on the offensive glass, which leads to put back dunks like these.
Chol Marial got the @MarialChol @adidasUprising #AdidasNations pic.twitter.com/25xnPW9jsm— Overtime (@overtime) July 30, 2016
Marial also has strong awareness of his teammates and is able to feed off of their moves to create his own shot. Here he is with a nice cut to the basket after his point guard drove to the hoop and was stopped.
New England well represented at Adidas Nations. Big Chol Marial hammers one down & Thomas Allen answers w/ a trey pic.twitter.com/JrSqnqJnv7— Mike Yagmin (@MikeYagmin) August 2, 2016
Dunks are not the only part of Marial’s offensive skill set though, he can also stretch the floor by shooting from midrange and beyond the arc.
Special congrats to AZ Compass Prep’s own Chol Marial on his McDonalds All American nomination. @SunDevilHoops @GeorgetownHoops @BaylorMBB @GatorsMBK @AdamZagoria @Pitt_MBB @ArizonaPreps @GreggRosenberg1 @MarialChol @CourtsideFilms @UNC_Basketball pic.twitter.com/ErCJnvkwIQ— AZ Compass Prep (@AZCompass_Prep) December 12, 2018
The one glaring weakness for Marial is easily his injury problems and durability. Marial only played six games last season and has dealt with shin issues his entire career. He is already out for at least the first few months of the season for the Terps after having surgery on both legs to repair stress fractures.
“Chol battled through injuries over the last few years in high school and we are glad to find a resolution that will provide him with the proper medical care he needs,” Coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement after the surgery was announced. “Our top priority is ensuring Chol is able to not only return to the court, but lead a healthy life well beyond basketball. We are confident Chol will make a full recovery and look forward to his return.”
Outlook for the 2019-20 Season
When it comes to the 2019-20 season for Marial, the two main questions are if he plays this year, and if he does play — when will it be. When the surgery was first announced, it was speculated that Marial would target returning for conference play, which begins in December and ramps up fully in January.
At media day, Turgeon seemed pleased with the progress Marial has made since having the surgery. During this rehab process, he’s been able to lift weights and work on his shooting, but hasn’t been able to jump.
Marial has an appointment with doctors on Nov. 25, which marks about three months since the surgery. If all goes well, Marial could be cleared to play. But if that check up doesn’t go as planned, many have speculated that Marial could take a redshirt season, although this idea has never been confirmed by the team.
When Marial gets back on the floor, it’s clear his impact will be felt immensely. If he returns this season, his presence will not only provide the Terps with more depth in the front court, but also another weapon, whose skillset is unlike any other player on the team.
Updated look 7’2 Chol Marial (@MarialChol) solid work @AZCompass_Prep this wknd. Blocking everything, easy dunks around the basket, & stretched the floor - knocking down the 3ball #FSU #Iowa #UCONN #Georgetown #WVU #WF #Portland #Rutgers #RedStorm + more @thegrindsession pic.twitter.com/wl3tfqNxOr— Ballers Bridge (@BallersBridge) January 16, 2019
“At one point he was the No. 1 player in the country. But when you haven’t played much in two years, people forget about you,” Kaffey told 247 Sports back in May. “Chol could be a like a Joel Embiid. He’s just got to get healthy. I think with all the [medical] resources at a school like Maryland, he’s gonna be all right.”